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Brad Pitt's response to red-carpet prank epitomizes his appeal

Brad Pitt's response to his red-carpet attack shows why he's one of our most beloved movie stars

Leave it to Brad Pitt to parlay a bizarre red-carpet scuffle into a PR victory.

Days after the A-list actor was accosted at the Hollywood premiere of partner Angelina Jolie's movie "Maleficent" by the notorious Vitalii Sediuk, Pitt issued a stern warning to his attacker while also burnishing his own image of unflappable cool, one that has helped make him perhaps our most beloved movie star.

Recalling the incident, Pitt told People in a statement, "I looked down and the nutter [Sediuk] was trying to bury his face in my crotch, so I cracked him twice in the back of the head — not too hard — but enough to get his attention, because he did let go."

He added, "I don't mind an exhibitionist, but if this guy keeps it up he's going to spoil it for the fans. … And he should know, if he tries to look up a woman's dress again, he's going to get stomped." (The latter was a reference to Sediuk accosting America Ferrera at the Cannes Film Festival.)

In a few sentences, Pitt demonstrated the full range of his mass appeal. He had a sense of humor about the incident ("nutter"), but he also flexed his tough-guy side — while shrewdly noting that he was "not too hard" on his assailant.

And then in the next breath, Pitt stood up for his legions of fans and engaged in some 21st century gallantry by defending Ferrera's honor.

It's that kind of deftness that has kept him at the top of the celebrity heap, even as some of his movies have pushed into edgier terrain. After all, even as Pitt has chosen to become involved with movies such as Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” or, less fruitfully, Andrew Dominik's "Killing Them Softly," his mainstream stock has only climbed higher.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that Pitt has also been a gallant savior on screen, as he was in "World War Z" and even, in its way, "12 Years a Slave."

As Pitt and his Plan B continue to leverage the actor’s star power into difficult projects — he is set to produce and star in a Stanley McChrystal story, for instance — one wonders whether we'll ever see a Brad Pitt backlash. Red-carpet weirdness, it turns out, only helps him.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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